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Carlow, Louth and Longford now have highest 14 day Covid incidence rate


People walking to work in Dublin as offices are allowed to reopen after Covid-19 restrictions. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

People walking to work in Dublin as offices are allowed to reopen after Covid-19 restrictions. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

People walking to work in Dublin as offices are allowed to reopen after Covid-19 restrictions. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

Counties Carlow, Louth and Longford now have the highest 14-day incidence of Covid-19 in country.

They have moved above Monaghan and Donegal as the worst affected counties.

Other counties with high incidences are Limerick, Westmeath and Galway.

Counties with the lowest 14 day incidence are Clare and Wicklow.

It comes as another 1,154 new cases of the virus were reported yesterday.

There were 297 Covid-19 patients in hospital, a rise of 19 since Sunday.

The number of patients in intensive care remained ­stable at 63.

A Hiqa report indicated that the wearing of face masks in secondary schools will remain unchanged for now although it confirmed its review recommended face masks for ­primary school pupils were not needed.

Meanwhile, University College Cork is the latest to launch a Covid-19 rapid antigen testing roll-out in a bid to pick up students who could have the virus.

More than 400 students will participate in the pilot known as UniCoV, which will use rapid antigen testing, saliva-based PCR and LAMP testing, as well as wastewater surveillance.

Olympic gold medallist and Quercus scholar Paul O’Donovan is among the students taking part in Cork.

Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, and project lead National University of Ireland Galway are also participating in the study.

However, a Hiqa review cast doubt on the effectiveness of rapid antigen testing as a means of surveillance of the virus.

It looked at the use of rapid antigen testing in real-world settings for screening or surveillance of asymptomatic individuals, those who have no known or suspected exposure to the virus, to limit its transmission.

It said that based on the current evidence, there is uncertainty regarding the effectiveness of rapid antigen testing for screening of asymptomatic individuals with the aim of limiting transmission of the virus.

There are also significant resource, implementation, regulatory, ethical and social considerations associated with the widespread use of rapid antigen detection tests (RADTs) in asymptomatic populations.

The watchdog advised that these tests may have “a role in limiting transmission in certain circumstances, but only as an additional public health measure, rather than a replacement for known mitigation measures”.

Hiqa chief scientist Dr Conor Teljeur said: “A negative antigen test in an asymptomatic person should not be viewed as a ‘green light’ to engage in activities that would be otherwise considered as high risk for transmission.

“Also, the introduction of routine and widespread rapid antigen testing in asymptomatic populations would require a significant investment.

“Any decision to use rapid antigen tests for screening in asymptomatic populations should consider a variety of factors including the prevalence of Covid-19, the proportion of the population who have adequate immunity and the vulnerability of the population involved.”

It comes as over 90pc of the population over 16 are now fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, a study published in the Irish Medical Journal highlighted the need for staff in hospitals to fully comply with Covid-19 guidelines.

Dr Aimen Habib, a medical senior house officer in St Vincent’s Hospital, said audits were carried out at the hospital looking at adherence to measures such as mask wearing and physical distancing.

Audits have shown improvements. He said healthcare workers have the potential to transmit infection not only to colleagues but to patients.

Covid-19 vaccines are helping to prevent transmission but new variants are more infectious and there is the potential for breakthrough infections in the fully vaccinated.

The audits showed the need for ongoing education and reminders to follow guidelines to prevent further outbreaks among healthcare workers.

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